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Low gpa in the first year


askarnu
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Hey everyone! I am a senior student applying for Ms/PhD programs in Statistics for Fall 2019. Currently, I am writing a SOP for a PhD program and I am not sure if I should mention my low GPA in the first year of my studies? Any advice? 

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It depends how low it is relative to your other years. Grad schools understand low freshmen year GPAs, but they need to see that you progressed and your GPA has increased throughout the years. I would say if your freshman GPA is different by 0.4 or greater than your other years, you should mention why it was low. The "how" to mention it part, I cannot answer for you. That depends on what happened and the circumstances. But I'm sure a lot of admissions committees hear the "I was a freshman, and didn't know what I wanted to study, etc." story all the time, so my advice would be to try and make it a bit more substantial than that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You’re getting bad advice, I assume from other people who are applying to grad school. There are way too many applications and if there’s an anomaly which you do not acknowledge you will go in the reject pile at any good school. It doesn’t matter the explanation as long as it’s sincere. “I didn’t take it seriously and realized I needed to” or “I hated school and almost dropped out to work at Walmart but then discovered my true calling” are fine answers. Ignoring it is trying to hide it in the hope that they’re too stupid to notice and insulting the committee won’t get you far. Of course, make sure it really is an anomaly like C’s and D’s. If your first year average was a 3.0 and you raised it to a 3.7 it’s not an issue.

I’ve been involved in the process at two top 20 schools. 

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Some might say it is more insulting to the committee to make a stupid excuse. Both of your examples are crappy reasons to get a bad grade - for literally everyone who gets a bad grade but otherwise has good grades, it is assumed the reason is like one of those.   What else could it possibly be?? It is not a matter of hiding. In fact, it's taking responsibility by letting your record speak for itself. 

In reality though, this might be a good lesson for this forum overall. People posting advice are just people, who have their own experiences and opinions. Someone with the same opinion as alanc might be on your committee, and someone with my opinion might be, and you can't always please us both.  Even the most experienced people here like cyberwulf, their great advice might be completely wrong for a program whose admissions chair is particularly unique. We are all trying to give the best advice possible. 

Edited by bayessays
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10 hours ago, bayessays said:

Some might say it is more insulting to the committee to make a stupid excuse. Both of your examples are crappy reasons to get a bad grade - for literally everyone who gets a bad grade but otherwise has good grades, it is assumed the reason is like one of those.   What else could it possibly be?? It is not a matter of hiding. In fact, it's taking responsibility by letting your record speak for itself. 

In reality though, this might be a good lesson for this forum overall. People posting advice are just people, who have their own experiences and opinions. Someone with the same opinion as alanc might be on your committee, and someone with my opinion might be, and you can't always please us both.  Even the most experienced people here like cyberwulf, their great advice might be completely wrong for a program whose admissions chair is particularly unique. We are all trying to give the best advice possible. 

You are so right, bayessays! Some of life is just getting lucky with who your reviewers are. You'll never please everyone and faculty at certain schools are vastly different.

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